A Dalit woman was beaten and stripped allegedly by people of other castes at Gangooru village in Belur taluk on Thursday.

The incident occurred during a peace meeting held in the morning to ease tension in the village following Dalits’ entry into a temple, and a mass haircut programme organised by a Bangalore-based hairstylist in the village on February 11.

Men and women of other castes allegedly assaulted the woman and tore off her clothes.

“They stripped me in the centre of the village. More than 600 people had gathered,” the woman, who was in tears, told The Hindu. She has been admitted to the government hospital in Belur.

The woman’s husband was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the mass haircut programme.

‘Instigated the crowd’

During the peace meeting, one person allegedly instigated the crowd to assault her and strip her.

“Not only men, even women, joined in humiliating me. They surrounded me, pulled me, hit me and within seconds, pulled off my clothes and pushed me to the ground. A handful of police personnel tried to prevent me from being humiliated further,” she said. The woman claimed that the police could not control the mob as there were very few personnel present.

The peace meeting was attended by officials, including Taluk Social Welfare Officer Lakshme Gowda, Deputy Superintendent of Police Manjunath Naik, and Belur taluk JD(S) president Ananta Subbarao. The woman and her relatives attended the meeting following an appeal by the officers.

“When we got there, there were hardly any Dalits. People of other castes were there in huge numbers. We stood in a corner. One of them criticised us and said we deserved humiliation. He continued his speech even as the Social Welfare Officer objected. The people took the officer to task for stopping him. Later, the group of men and women attacked me,” she alleged.

Action promised

Ravi D. Channavara, Superintendent of Police, visited the village. He told The Hindu that the woman had given her statement and the police would register the complaint.

“We have a video clip as proof of the incident. We will book a case against all those involved and take action,” he said.

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